Thursday, February 15, 2007

Book: Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand (2007)

Kelly Link and Gavin Grant of Small Beer Press asked me to work on concepts for Elizabeth Hand's new novel Generation Loss. The novel is an excellent old school punk rock, incredibly creepy, maritime thriller where nearly every character is damaged. Junkie-damaged. Dead end punk-damaged. Post-hippie "The Family"-style-damaged. Weird Maine sea captain-damaged. But with redemption! of sorts.

In any case, I tried to get across the idea of damage in the imagery. "Generation Loss" as a demographic (i.e. Generation X), as a photographic event (when copies are made from copies, resulting in resolution loss in the subsequent generations), and as a mental process (instead of photographic resolution, mental resolution) are also represented. As are the maritime and tree themes that are present in the book. See below for the final and comps.

Final version (below) of the dustjacket cover (minus all jacket copy):

Intial comp 4 (below). This comp actually is my favorite, from a purely artistic standpoint, but there was some well-founded concern about bookstore readability of the vertical title type. The face I got from some old photography book. The violent perpendicular line/slashes was a section of a Herbert Bayer illustration, I believe. The ships were from some old 19th century postcard, and the smoke-like trail was from a 19th century japanese postcard of a snail. The red line was a sharpie line drawn on a sheet of regular printer paper and then scanned in and blown up.

Initial comp 3 (below). I tried a photographic approach using a photograph by artist Steven Berardelli. The tree plays a vivid role in the book, and it was fun to reflect that in this cover comp.

Initial comp 2 (below). I'm not sure I like the color scheme on this comp, viewing it today. I like the heavily degraded texture. The type was scanned in from actual wood type that I use for my letterpress. The background photo was a small snippet from a photograph of my grandmother at the beach in Iowa in the 1930s.

Initial comp #1 (below). I like this comp an awful lot. I kind of stole the hanging man concept from my New Fangs poster (which was really based on Saul Bass imagery), but I incorporated the camera image (it's a Leica) as the figure's head. I like how the tree is such a negative space. And I like how it's upsidedown. The good thing about rejected comps is that you can use them for future projects! I think this one would make a nice book cover or poster. Hmm.